Leinster and Ulster eye the big one
April 29, 2012
Ruan Pienaar celebrates victory over Edinburgh © Getty Images
For the first time in the history of the tournament there will be an all-Irish Heineken Cup final, with holders Leinster set to go toe-to-toe with Ulster at Twickenham on May 19.
Ulster made Lansdowne Road their home on Saturday for the first semi-final, beating a brave Edinburgh side 22-19 thanks to a superb performance by Ruan Pienaar.
The South African scrum-half slotted five penalties and kicked beautifully from hand, holding Edinburgh at bay as Michael Bradley's side again brought their brand of running rugby to the table.
Graham Jenkins hailed Pienaar as one of the most obvious choices for Man of the Match in the history of the Heineken Cup, while Ulster boss Brian McLaughlin was equally generous when describing his side's dominant scrum.
For Edinburgh, it was a disappointing end to what has been a marvellous campaign. The first Scottish side to make a Heineken Cup semi-final, they made plenty of friends along the way with an electric offloading game. Jim Thompson's try was too little too late on the day, but Iain Morrison believes they could have changed the game for the better with their exploits.
On Sunday, Leinster pulled off perhaps their greatest semi-final victory to keep alive their hopes of back-to-back titles, and three Cups in four seasons. Clermont Auvergne put up a fierce fight in Bordeaux but off the back of a Cian Healy try - the only of the game - Leinster prevailed 19-15.
Fullback Rob Kearney and fly-half Jonathan Sexton also enjoyed strong outings while Clermont, playing their first semi-final, will be haunted by Wesley Fofana's late knock on over the line, and perhaps also some of the decisions from referee Wayne Barnes.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"If England flounder in the next World Cup the knives will be out - six-year contract or not." Tom Hamilton on the new contract for the England coaches
With the deadline for World Cup ticket applications now over, Tom May outlines his hopes, gripes and wishes for next year's global gathering
Floundering Leicester, exquisite Exeter and two old England players tearing up trees - it's the Monday Maul
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship and all the domestic action from the northern hemisphere